Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Prision Labour.

I stumbled upon this story via a story about idiot robbers via Damian This is the headline For farmers, inmates step in for migrants. Basically the story is as follows.
The women bend at the waist between rows of green-topped onions, hacking at weeds. At day’s end, their muscles will scream. They’ll also be $4 richer — several dollars more than they’d get splitting wood or mopping floors at their prison.

That’s not the only benefit for this crew of 10 inmates from Pueblo’s La Vista Correctional Facility: “I get to see things grow instead of piddling around in the facility,” Lisa Richards said.

It’s also a good deal for Pueblo County farmers, who say Colorado’s get-tough-on-illegal-immigration stance scared away their laborers and left last season’s crops spoiling in the fields.

This year, Rep. Dorothy Butcher, D-Pueblo, brokered a deal to replace migrant workers with a nearby abundant supply of cheap labor — inmates.

When ever I think of prison labour I think of the Shawshank Redemption where the governor made buckets of cash from prison labour . Now I doubt this is anything but above board. But I am still in two minds about this.

First the prisoners are getting paid to do this and it is voluntary. Even though of the $9.60 a hour the farmer pays the inmate gets $4 dollar. I guess the rest going to the prison service. I have actually no problem with this. That $4 dollar while paltry is in essence spending money. They don't have bills or anything to pay. So while it appears that it is not far off slave labour in reality it is not, for them.

For the farmers the fact that immigration has been tighten up means that they need new workers. They seemingly advertised and could not find anyone. Whether or not it is the wages they offered or the fact that it is dahm hard work is the reason who knows. So is it justifiable to use prison labour?

Considering the climate that America is in where they are trying to close their borders I can't see anyway around this. Farmers need workers, Immigrants are not being brought and no one wants these jobs. It is a dangerous slope to go down. Where prison labour which is cheaper (and tax payer subsidies in many ways) is used to replace workers. If it comes to a stage where they compete with actually workers not as in this case filling in non-existing workers then we will have problems.

But for the moment even though I don't like it in my gut, my mind sees it as sensible measure in this case. But something tells me the desire to make "prisoners pay back to society with hard work" could end up displacing workers. Causing more social problems then it will solve

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